Gunfire erupted on a busy Toronto street filled with holiday shoppers, killing a young woman and wounding six others, police said, the latest in a record surge in gun violence in the city this year. Two suspects were arrested and at least one firearm was seized shortly after the shootings, which occurred Monday afternoon near the popular Eaton Centre shopping mall.
The busy downtown area, popular with tourists, was also the site of two other shootings this year. There have been 78 murders in Toronto this year, including a record 52 gun-related deaths, twice as many as last year. Police suggested it might have been gang related and that some of the victims were accidentally shot. Authorities did not give the age of the female victim or say how many gunmen there were.
An off-duty police officer, who was shot in the leg, was among those wounded. But police said it appears he was shot accidentally after a bullet ricocheted.
"I can't say which of the individuals have been targeted and which are accidental," Police Staff Sgt. Stan Belza said. "This is an extremely busy shopping day. There were a lot of people out there." Officials said the six wounded were hospitalized.
Emergency vehicles crowded around the scene, which was cordoned off with yellow police tape. "Someone said they were shot and everyone went to the back of the store," said Magnolia Sandoval, an employee at a camera store.
Belza said he was "greatly disturbed" by the rise in gun killings in Toronto. "I've seen this city change and I'm not pleased with it. We're doing everything we possibly can but it seems to be not enough," Belza said. "It seems to be so brazen, so little regard for anyone else's safety. I don't understand the boldness of it all,” reports the AP. I.L.